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March 1987

Vitamin C Levels in Human Tears

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver. Dr Paterson is now with the Kentucky Lions Eye Research Institute, University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(3):376-377. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060030096034

• Human tears, collected using the Schirmer strip method, were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography for vitamin C (ascorbic acid). In "basal" tears, the levels of ascorbic acid ranged from 3.9 to 23 mg/dL (220 to 1310 μmol/ L); lower values correlated with higher tear flow rates. In reflex tears, induced by brief ammonia inhalation, the ascorbic acid level fell dramatically and appeared to reach a minimum level around 2 mg/dL (110 μmol/L). Even the low level in reflex tears, however, was consistently higher than plasma levels. Ascorbic acid in tears has a potential anti-inflammatory role.

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